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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010

    Cannondale Scalpel 29 Carbon 1 vs. Specialized S-works Epic

    Okay, have been riding a hardtail carbon 29er now for a few years (the Felt Team Nine); love the bike and its been great but thinking of getting a full suspension 29er I mainly an XC racer who does both short and long (hopefully doing Leadville this year) races but can and do enjoy riding technical single track, I live in SoCal, O.C. to be specific, and noticed lately that I am getting really beat up at times on the hardtail, I also noticed that a lot of the fast guys are on the S-Works Epic now; I want as light a bike at possible which is why the S-works has interested me for a while but been reading good reviews on the Cannondale and can get it a bit cheaper; so am asking for those out there that have ridden both or either to give me your opinions on which one I should look into getting, am gonna try to test both at some point later this summer or fall

  2. #2
    sock puppet
    Reputation: osokolo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    i have not ridden both - only the Epic. you can find my review on MTBR... i don't think it gets any better at this point of technology development, than the Epic. Brain suspension has finally matured and it works really well. Epic is the closest thing to a hard tail, yet is a full suspension bike...

    Scalpel is a very good bike - i do not have input on ride quality though...

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    I work in a shop that sells both (and has both in stock!) - S-Works Epic w/full XTR and Scalpel 0 / Ultimate are same msrp roughly... the debate comes down to brain vs lefty IMHO.

    I own a scalpel 29er 1 - couldn't justify the extra for the ultimate (a set of stan's crests on AC hubs will get me to sub 23lbs, easily - probably 22.5, and this is without upgrading anything else... I've even added a heavier seat). And personally, I am not a fan of FSR / brain. I like my suspension to be either fully on or propedal'd - I prefer to know exactly what's going to happen vs wondering how the bike will react to the trail.
    I also think the lefty is a superior setup to any fork available. It feels better, is lighter and stiffer especially with a good wheelset. In particular, wait for the 2013s as they have updated the lefty in a really positive way.

    Bottom line - ride both; you can't go wrong. I do lots of long rides, endurance racing and just fun burly stuff that a full carbon 100mm bike doesn't belong on... Super rocky and technical east coast style. Brain is of no relevance to me, I like plush, simple to work on, and light. For shorter XC race, it might be the best thing ever. Weights are close, prices are close, specs are identical. You will find on either side whoever owns what. One of the other techs had a scalpel, switched to epic, loves his too..
    Quote Originally Posted by sickspeed16
    Your not all mountain unless your runnin' crushed dew cans..
    '12 Scalpel 29er Carbon 1
    '13 SuperSix EVO Red Racing

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: The Boz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    I'm in your same boat, but for me the Specialized is waaaaay overpriced, and I don't like the brain system, it is quirky and requires too much maintenance. The scalpel looks good but I'm not a fan of the lefty fork, I prefer a standard fork with a 15mm thru axle for durability. Before you buy, check out the Niner Jet 9 RDO, Santa Cruz Tallboy, and the Scott Spark 29. All are carbon and very light.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    I had an Epic S works and could not get the suspension dialed in for the life of me. I sold it and ended up replacing it with a totally different animal, the Canfield Yelli Screamy which is a million times more fun than the Epic was and just as fast. Which is weird since it's aluminum and not especially light. And not at all meant to be a race bike. At all. Ok, the truth is, it's probably not faster but it's so much more fun to ride that I just feel faster.

    I do know that if I was looking to buy another full suspension "race" bike it would undoubtedly be the Scalpel. I have demoed a couple Cannondale bikes in the recent past and am a huge fan of their Lefty fork. Those forks are like velvet lasers...

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